The lure of open-source backup programs


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Amanda Enterprise costs about one-third the licensing fee of widely used commercial backup programs. Besides adding new features to Amanda, Zmanda offers 24/7 customer support and an "orderly new feature release schedule," says Ann Ruckstuhl, VP of sales and marketing.

Chris Hoogendyk, system administrator for the biology and geology departments at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, chose Amanda over Bacula in 2005 for three main reasons: "The maturity of the Amanda user community; it wasn't extremely dependent on a single programmer; and for the software design's simplicity, elegance and insight in breaking away from standard approaches to do something unique," he says.

More specifically, Hoogendyk says that some departments around campus were using Veritas NetBackup, but his department co-workers felt it "didn't provide that much more benefit for the cost, and it took significant expertise to configure and manage."

Also helping to sway Hoogendyk's decision to adopt Amanda is its use of native tools, such as ufsdump for his Solaris servers, which meant Hoogendyk could leverage his Solaris experience and, if needed, read the backup tapes without Amanda.

Hoogendyk says he's "pretty happy with Amanda," but would like to see a more mature tape catalog that can scan a barcode on a tape to determine "not just what Amanda has done with that tape and when, but where the

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tape is stored."

Hoogendyk says tracking tapes could be done manually with a handheld barcode scanner, but that "requires work that sys admins are typically lousy at. It requires discipline."

--Rich Friedman

This was first published in September 2008

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